Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day's importance

For most Americans, this is a three-day weekend because of the Memorial Day holiday that falls on Monday.

Of course, the importance of holidays varies from person to person. For many, Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer. Cook outs and spending time with friends will be the agenda for most folks on Monday.

Additionally, many people will hit the road to enjoy a little relaxation out of town. The recession is still limiting the options most people have when it comes to traveling, but a small trip is better than no trip.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with this. Life blazes at a remarkable pace, and it should be considered a blessing whenever we can all pause and have a moment of peace.

However, we all must take a moment on Monday to remember why this holiday is observed. More and more, it seems like we view our holidays as a reason to party without any focus on why the holiday was created.

When it comes to Memorial Day, the holiday was established to remember the men and women who gave their lives serving our country in the military. The number of people who have done this is enormous.

More than one million have died while serving during wartime, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. More than 400,000 died during World War II alone.

If those numbers do not snap you back into reality, I can not think of anything else that will.

Obviously, our country's history would have been quite different without the willingness of these people to sacrifice themselves like they did. Without their commitment, tyrants around the world would have faced a lot less opposition.

If Adolf Hitler had led Germany to victory in World War II, the world would have become a much more miserable place. We all would have learned how to goosestep at a very young age.

For me, it is difficult to put all this into perspective because I never served in the military. I have loved ones who have, but of course, that is not the same thing.

I recently watched the film Saving Private Ryan, which graphically re-enacted the storming of Normandy Beach during D-Day.

Before you say it, let me write what I know you are thinking. That was just a movie, and we have to be very careful regarding how we interpret Hollywood's attempts to portray historical events.

I understand that.

However, if the film only presented a small percentage of what it was like, then it should provide us insight into how our soldiers have sacrificed throughout our country's history. The horror of D-Day played a major role in allowing us to live the lives we are enjoying now.

If nothing else, this should make us think about how we use the freedom these people fought and died for.

Freedom is easy to take for granted. I know I do it all the time.

It is easy to get complacent and believe that our freedom can never be taken from us. After all, we are the mighty and unstoppable United States of America.

There are lots of threats to the freedom we enjoy, but complacency could be the one thing that eventually brings our country down.

It is part of our nature to take things for granted, and if we do that with freedom, we will one day wake up and wonder where it has gone.

So, on Monday, spend time considering the sacrifices many have made for our country.

Despite our nation's struggles, it could be a whole lot worse. And that time could come right soon.

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